Alumni Stories - Chris Complin
Name: Dr Chris Complin
Studied: PhD Artificial Intelligence 1997
Employer: Chief investment officer, JP Morgan Asset Management
They are the men and women who have the power to shape the future for millions. Their decisions are crucial for anyone putting money into the stock market. The Financial Mail has revealed the top 50 investment fund managers in the UK. Leading the class is former Birmingham Computer Science student Chris Complin, Chief investment officer, European equity group, JP Morgan Asset Management He is rated the number one investment manager in the UK.
Complin's abilities have been recognised by JP Morgan Fleming. Though he has been at the company for only six years, his rise has been rapid. He is now responsible for 32 investment professionals. His talents have also been acknowledged by rivals. He says: 'When you deliver the kind of returns I have over the past three years, headhunters come knocking. We have a process that works. Our funds deliver what they say they will deliver on the tin. 'The business is growing. Why would I want to move?'
‘I sit within Asset Management where I’m the Chief Investment Officer for the European and US Behavioural Finance process and the European Research Driven Process. I'm responsible for the investment performance and investment process in those areas. We are, essentially, fund managers running European and US equity portfolios where we generate excess investment returns for a variety of clients ranging from institutional and retail investors.
Everything I did at university was focused on behaviour
One wit once said I spent my time at Birmingham University trying to make computers think more like humans, now I spend my time trying to make humans think more like computers. So I had quantitative skill that I was lucky enough to be able to apply to investment management.
We get our graduates doing a real job straight away
The quicker we can integrate them into the team and get them contributing to the investment decision-making process, the better - and that’s usually within days or weeks rather than months.
I’m a massive movie buff
I try to go once a week with friends - I’ve been doing that for 20 years.
Our attitude to training is very rigorous and disciplined
We don’t believe in hiring senior people - we hire juniors and train them. One of the first things we do is send people on a project management course and then get them to run their own personal development as a project.
The working environment is like a cross between a trading floor and an office
It’s noisy, vibrant, dynamic, with people talking to each other all the time. It’s a very young team and we try to create interaction between people. It’s very important that people enjoy coming into work.
Combining this career with a family isn’t a problem
The majority of the mid to senior people on the desk have at least one child. The hours are reasonable and we tend not to take work home at night or at the weekend. It’s all about the quality of the decisions we take, not the quantity.
Analysts and associates have minimal interaction with clients
They’re developing the skills they need to become a portfolio manager. That said, if they’re in a product manager role they’ll see clients straightaway.
For me, the biggest buzz of the job is having helped build a desk that we’re very proud of.
We’re the number one equity provider in Europe and one in three equity dollars that come into Europe come to us.
It’s a high-pressure job
You need to be mentally tough because being exposed to markets that are out of your control is intense.
I’m very interested in reading and writing
I read a huge amount - several books at the same time. Writing fiction is a hobby. It doesn’t come naturally - I was better at science - but I find it therapeutic doing something that’s very different from anything I normally do.
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever spent my bonus
Apart from buying books and going to the cinema, I don’t have any extravagant hobbies.
Chris completed his PhD at Birmingham (1997) in AI (on the evolution of evolvability)
He was chosen as best U.K. Fund Manager by the Citiwire survey
Selected by Financial news online as one of the rising stars in Europe in 2005
Now a managing director at JPMorgan